How to stage your property for maximum profit – first impressions

By Aidan Devine | 20 Oct 2011


The entry

The entry is the hottest spot because as many as 90 per cent of buyers decide if they want to buy the house right then and there.

  • If your entry is small remove everything – all furniture, hooks, plants, floor rugs and low hanging light fittings. Your real estate agent and buyers will often linger and chat in the entry.
  • If your entry is larger put in a hall table that you can see under to the wall. A mirror can look great if it is not directly opposite the front door. Otherwise, beautiful artwork will do the trick.
  • If your entry is massive, transform it into a small sitting area. Position one or two small chairs for visitors to remove shoes or chat for a little longer.
  • Make sure the entry flows to the adjoining rooms. Find your focal point and give it a go. Don’t clutter and always centre your furniture.
  • If there is a coat cupboard, organise hats and other accessories into baskets and put them on the top shelf of the closet. Pack away all but a few coats. Boots and shoes should be clean and neatly lined up on the floor.

The formal lounge

Normally the first large room near the entry and front door is the formal lounge. Determine your target market to make sure you dress the room appropriately.

  • Generally the aim of the formal lounge (if you have more than one sitting area) is to create an intimate and classy environment. It should be highly social and entertainment – or television – free.
  • Try not to position couches against the walls. Many people think it makes the rooms look bigger when in actual fact it is doing the opposite.
  • Position furniture into cosy conversational groups. The chairs and couches represent bottoms and they should all be within easy hearing distance from each other.
  • More often than not I take away privacy curtains because this is the trend at the moment.
  • When selecting wall colours stick to neutrals. If you want to have a feature wall select a colour only a shade or two darker than the other walls. White on ceilings makes the height feel taller.
  • Place floor lamps in distant corners from the entrance to increase the depth of the room and draw the eye across its expanse.
  • Examine the room and decide what are its grandest features. These are what you want the buyer’s eye to be drawn to.
  • Be mindful of traffic flow. If you have just one door in the formal living area, foot traffic should flow easily to the sitting area from the door. When there are two doors in the room, traffic should flow around the conversational area.
  • Instead of walls lined with pieces of furniture remove some or even all of the furnishings and you’ll be amazed at how much bigger the house looks.

The living room

The living room is the best room to dress and accessorise to your target market.

  • If you want to appeal to a young single couple with no children then you could bring in travel-related accessories. For example, hard covered travel books for the coffee table. This will result in the buyers connecting with the thought that this house works for people with similar interests to theirs, who still have the freedom to travel.
  • When you are selling a family home, try to avoid putting out items that cause the parents to be distracted by having to discipline their children not to touch.
  • I have never staged a toy room because to an adult who has no attachment to the toys, it represents mess and hours of cleaning up. Instead, use a few strategic toys, such as a rocking horse or a little red pedal car to appeal to your target market.
  • If you can’t walk through the room easily then remove some of the furniture. Replace a large coffee table with a small ottoman. Mount the television to the wall to remove the need for an entertainment unit.
  • Remove personal items and trophies so other people can see themselves living there rather than be reminded of your hobbies and achievements.
  • Arrange the room in a way to encourage group conversation and family interaction. Many houses I have been to have the lounge and armchairs lining one wall all facing the television. This can give the room the look and feel of a retirement home.
  • You don’t always have to replace your furniture or hire new furniture for staging. Here are some ways to ‘lift’ well loved couches:
  1. Have couches and lounges professionally cleaned
  2. Bring in new cushions and throws
  3. Puff, fluff, bend and manipulate couch cushions so they look and sit like new again.
  • If the couches are really too far gone and you don’t want to purchase new ones then buy some couch covers from Kmart, BigW or Target.
  • The last resort is renting furniture and this can be a fantastic and economical way to go. Save purchasing new furniture for the house you are moving into.
  • On mantle-pieces you can place a vase with flowers, some candles, a bowl of keys, a small stack of old hard-cover books.
  • If the room has a fireplace, couches and chairs should face it. Inside the fireplace you can arrange wood, pine cones or candles.
  • Buyers love built-in bookshelves. There is a fine line between filling them with clutter and staging them to sell. The trick is to arrange neutral items (vases, candles, hard cover books, plants, pictures and clocks) in clusters. Avoid trophies, personal papers, study folders and photographs.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave some spaces unadorned. It is easy to get carried away and overdo furnishings.
  • Always go back to the door to check that all-important first impression, and assess the balance of furniture placement, artwork and lighting.

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